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Colleges & Universities Investigations

Fired Wheaton Chaplain Rebuts Allegations; Calls Termination “Grossly Disproportionate”

Edtor’s Note:  This article first appeared on The Roys Report.  It is reprinted with permission.

Recently fired Wheaton College Chaplain, Timothy Blackmon, says allegations he sexually harassed Wheaton staff and made inappropriate racial comments are false and taken out of context. He adds that he believes his case has not been “fairly adjudicated” and that his termination was “grossly disproportionate” to the nature of his alleged offenses.

In a statement Blackmon sent to me, Blackmon specifically responded to the allegations detailed in an email from Wheaton College President Philip Ryken to faculty and staff.

In response to the allegation that Blackmon “suggested in a staff meeting that a female employee sit on his lap and complete a sexual harassment online training for him as a way of mocking the training,” Blackmon wrote:

In September of 2015, I watched the mandatory (but rather patronizing) sexual harassment training video at Wheaton. I said to the complainant and my secretary “Come on, it’s not like I don’t know what sexual harassment is. It’s not like I’m asking my secretary to sit on my lap and take the training for me.”

Blackmon also responded to the allegation that he “made comments to a recently married female employee about her sex life,” writing:

In 2015 . . . the complainant . . . whose brand-new husband had been pulling all-nighters for grad-school. As a way of celebrating their newly wedded bliss I said, “Maybe you should surprise him and pay him a conjugal visit.” As to the conjugal-visit comment, I was genuinely trying to commiserate with her about the challenges of graduate school and newlyweds.

Another allegation was that Blackmon “arranged to have a graphically illustrated manual of sexual positions called The Idiot’s Guide to Kama Sutra placed on a female staff member’s desk. Blackmon responded:

As I was leaving the Netherlands, I received a farewell gift from the wife of one of my very best friends. She had purchased the “Idiot’s guide to the Kama Sutra” for me, at our church bazaar for 1 euro. It was a joke, of course, and she made sure the wrapped gift found its way from the cargo shipment into my new office at Wheaton. When I found the hilarious gift, I told the complainant the story (as I have done to others) and gave her the book, thinking she would find it funny. Of course when asked about the incident, I have admitted it was foolish and unthinking, because when taken out of its contexts without the prank, it sounds like I just put a book of sex positions on her desk.

Lastly, Blackmon responded to the allegation that he “repeatedly used an ethnic slur in reference to a person of color”:

When I started at Wheaton, one of my Asian American colleagues was mistaken for (an) . . . Asian American professor. We commiserated about the realities of beginning to work at Wheaton and laughed (and texted) about Whiz Kalifa’s song “Black and Yellow”—a black pastor from Holland and a Korean ministry associate. I said, “Maybe we should call you the China-man because people can’t even tell one Asian from another, one Chinese from a Korean.” More laughter ensued and for the next couple of weeks we commiserated about the ironies of working in a predominantly white institution, and we soon moved on from our inside joke and got to work. This is what they are considering the racial/ethnic slur.

Blackmon also asserts that the Title IX complaint that led to his termination is the second complaint against him filed by an employee “whom I hold in the highest regard and with whom I believed I had a positive and professional working relationship.”

Blackmon said the employee filed the first complaint in 2017, after Blackmon had shared five theological articles that were deemed “ideologically problematic.” Blackmon said Wheaton’s Title IX office refused to pursue the matter “as it was a clear misuse of the Title IX investigative process.”

The more recent Title IX investigation “still focused on the declined material from the 2017 complaint,” Blackmon said, and was “set in motion before I was afforded the customary conflict resolution process for employees at Wheaton College.”

Ryken maintains that the investigation into Blackmon’s behavior “had nothing to do with the theological content of any articles (Blackmon) shared with his staff.” Ryken added that he had hoped not to share the details of the allegations against Blackmon, but felt “compelled to correct erroneous information that was provided to the media.”

*Some of Blackmon’s statements have been edited slightly to better obscure the identities of the alleged victims.

Julie Roys

Julie is a graduate of both Wheaton College and the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She and her husband, Neal, live in the Chicago suburbs and have three children.